Make a difference for animals in need!
About the Program:
HSCC's Foster Care Program places orphaned, pregnant, newborn, injured, sick, and under-socialized animals into private homes for temporary housing. Some of the shelter’s most vulnerable residents benefit tremendously from foster care, which provides them with time outside of the shelter for recovery from an illness or injury, or to receive extra attention and socialization. Foster care can also give us an opportunity to learn more about the animals in our care by giving us a glimpse into how they behave in a house setting or with a transition into a home environment (as they will experience upon adoption). Lastly, our foster care program allows us to help more animals than we have room to house in our brick and mortar facility.
What’s required of the foster:
- Safe housing for the animal(s)
- Food, medications, and other treatments given as instructed
- Transportation to/from the shelter and follow up appointments
- Attendance at all scheduled follow up appointments (checkups, vaccinations, spay/neuter, etc.)
- Adherence to the foster care guidelines, which are provided to all foster caregivers
- While foster caregives are not required to live in Chittenden County, fosters must live within a reasonable distance of the shelter and/or the emergency vet in Williston in case of emergency.
What we provide:
- Supplies needed for care of the foster animal(s)
- Guidance on appropriate care for the foster animal(s)
- Training on medical care as needed (administering medications, wound care, etc.)
- Training plans as needed for behavior case animals
- After hours contact information for emergencies
Though we are happy to provide resources (food, blankets, carriers, toys, litter box, etc.), we encourage our foster families to support our efforts by purchasing food and/or litter on their own. This helps HSCC offset the costs of the 1,400+ animals we care for each year!
Foster Programs & Services Available
There are a number of ways in which our foster families can help animals in HSCC’s care. By understanding what is required of our foster families for each specific program, we can best match our foster families with animals in our care. See below for a brief description of each of our foster programs and how to apply to become a foster.
Cats and kittens in our care might need a foster home for a variety of reasons. The most common situation is a litter of kittens (sometimes with a mother cat, sometimes orphaned kittens) who are too young to be adopted, and need time in a foster home where they can be socialized and cared for until they are big enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted (this generally happens around 8-12 weeks old, but the time commitment varies depending on the individual animal's age and health). Some kittens may be feral and require more intensive socialization time.
We also sometimes need foster homes for adult cats with ongoing medical issues to provide them with an opportunity to enjoy time outside of the shelter to recover and heal. These cats do not require their foster families to have any specific medical background, but they are often on daily medications (which we will clearly explain before the foster term begins). The commitment time can vary from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the animal's health status and overall treatment plan.
If you are interested in applying to be a cat & kitten foster, click here to complete our cat foster application.
Dogs and puppies in our care might need a foster home for a variety of reasons. The most common need for a dog foster is for dogs with ongoing medical issues who need time outside of the shelter to recover and heal until they are ready for adoption. These dogs do not require their foster families to have any specific medical background, but they are often on daily medications (which we will clearly explain before the foster term begins). The commitment time can vary from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the animal's health status and overall treatment plan.
We also sometimes need foster homes for puppies (sometimes with a mother dog, sometimes orphaned puppies) who are too young to be adopted, and need time in a foster home where they can be socialized and cared for until they are big enough to be spayed/neutered and adopted
If you are interested in applying to be a dog & puppy foster, click here to complete our dog foster application.
Don't have time for a long-term commitment, but missing a certain canine presence in your life? Click here to fill out a Pawjama Party Profile, and every week you will get the chance to take a dog home for the weekend, all supplies included! The way this works is that every Friday, the foster coordinator sends out an email to those folks who have filled out a PJ Party Profile, inviting them to sign up for a dog for the weekend. With a few exceptions, dogs muse be picked up on Sunday and returned either Monday or Tuesday morning. Please note that all of our regular dog fosters are also invited to sign up for PJ Parties, so if you think you are interested in more than just weekend fostering, go ahead and fill out the standard dog foster application instead. Please email email@example.com with any questions!
A Note Concerning Foster Dogs:
The shelter world is facing a huge increase in animals being surrendered in the wake of the pandemic. These animals are often undersocialized, and display one or more behavioral complexities that require specific management techniques. In order to keep our fosters safe, and prevent our animals from being placed into situations that are not appropriate for them, it is important that we have as much information as possible about our fosters' dog-related backgrounds and comfort levels. The questions on our application about prior experience with behavioral complexities and management techniques are designed to help us gather that information, so please be as specific as possible when answering. Nobody will be asked to take on a dog that they are not comfortable fostering, and nobody will be turned away from fostering based on a lack of experience!
Since we can only take in a limited number of small animals due to lack of space, there is usually a long waiting list for relinquishments of rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. from our community. Our small animal foster program was developed to help fill some of the gaps while giving these sensitive little critters a break from shelter life! We encourage our "smallie" foster parents to provide supplies, but we can help supplement as necessary. The time commitment for this type of foster can vary from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on how quickly the small animals in the shelter get adopted (thus freeing up space).
If you are interested in applying to be a small animal foster, please click here.
The Good Neighbor Program provides temporary shelter for beloved pets whose owners are experiencing a crisis or transition. Foster families can help us provide extended care for these special pets for up to 4 weeks, after which the animals are returned to their owners if the crisis or emergency has resolved.
See below for answers to the most common foster questions, and feel free to reach out to our Foster Program Coordinator Isabel at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional inquiries.
We email our eligible fosters when we have:
- A pregnant mother
- A litter of puppies or kittens
- An animal that needs medical support best provided in a home
- An animal too young to spay or neuter
- An animal that needs behavioral support best provided in a home
- Or an animal that for whatever reason will not thrive in a shelter
The Foster Program Coordinator will send out an email that includes:
- Info on any medical conditions
- Info on behavior
- The approximate length of time they will be in foster
- The date and time they need to be picked up
If the animal(s) sound like a good match… SEND US AN EMAIL BACK!
- Please specify the time you can come pick up and any supplies that you know you will need.
The Foster Program Coordinator will look at responses and use the application you filled out to find a good fit for the animal(s)!
- If that’s you, you will receive an email back to coordinate pick up.
- Pickup (and drop-off) happens at the shelter between the hours of 8:00AM and 6:00PM.
- At the appointment, we will go over the foster contract, species-specific information, and any questions you might have.
- Some foster requests get upwards of 50 responses, while others get very few.
- This makes it impossible to guarantee when you will get a chance to foster.
- If you HAVE responded to a foster request, make sure to regularly check your email until the request is closed!
- If we reach out to you and don’t hear back within a certain amount of time, we will have to move on to another good fit.
For all species, we provide:
- Food (incl. prescription diets if necessary)
- Enclosures (incl. crates for dogs if necessary)
- Species- or age-specific items (ex: collars, leashes, litterboxes, kitten formula)
- If you can provide any of these things on your own, let us know!
- If you run out of anything, get in touch! We will provide supplies for the entire duration of the foster stay
HSCC is the primary provider of medical care for all foster animals! Fosters are given the direct numbers of the HSCC Medical Director and Foster Coordinator.
Any medical concerns should be reported to them immediately. We will also reach out to schedule all check-ups, surgeries, and vaccination appointments: all of those things happen here at HSCC.
Fosters should not give their foster animals any medication not approved by HSCC. Foster animals should be taken to an outside provider (BEVS) only in the case of life-threatening emergency. If a foster animal has a known medical condition, that information will be provided in the email requesting a foster.
Sometimes animals are sent to foster for additional socialization or behavior support. HSCC has a team of dog trainers who can put together behavior plans for individual dogs. Someone will be on-call to answer any behavior concerns that might arise in foster.
We also have many resources exclusively devoted to socialization that we share with fosters who take home undersocialized cats and kittens. If an animal has a known behavioral complexity, it will be disclosed in the email request for fosters. Starting 09/2022, HSCC will be running monthly humane education seminars, many of them focused on animal behavior.
Fosters often have their own cats, dogs, or other animals at home! If you are a dog foster with a dog at home, we will do a dog intro here at HSCC before you take your foster home. Foster dogs may not be taken to any off-leash areas, or to any dog parks, while they are in foster.
If you are a cat foster with cats at home, any foster cats must be kept separate from your resident animals for at least 2 weeks. If you would like to facilitate an introduction after that, we can provide guidance how to do so.
Rabbits and other small animals should be kept separate from resident animals for the duration of the foster period.
Let us know as soon as possible! We understand that sometimes things come up, and the more notice we have, the more effectively we can make a plan for getting the animal back to the shelter.
HSCC frequently takes in stray animals, as well as animals with an unknown behavioral or medical background. This means your foster animal might need to be treated for fleas, or might not be housebroken. We will disclose everything we know about the animal’s history and behavior before you agree to foster, but we can’t guarantee that there won’t be behavioral or medical surprises down the line.
If something comes up that is past your capacity to handle, please email or call us ASAP! We will immediately bring that animal back into our care. No one will be asked to take on something they are not comfortable with, and we are always here to support our fosters with whatever they need.
We will generally either take the animal back, or in some cases, have your petsitter sign a foster agreement so that the animals can stay in your care. Foster animals must remain in your primary residence or at HSCC. They cannot be given to friends to look after or brought on vacation. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, so let us know your travel plans as soon as possible!
You can absolutely adopt your foster animal! Fosters are given the first right to adopt as soon as the animal is ready to be made available. Fosters have to pay the full adoption fee for that animal or animals. We cannot hold animals for fosters once they are ready to be made available, so the sooner you know you want to adopt, the better!
Questions? Please email Isabel, our Foster Program Coordinator, at email@example.com
Tuesday-Friday: 1PM - 5PM
Saturday: 10AM - 4PM
Sunday & Monday: CLOSED